Many people decried Spotify when it handed the controversial podcaster, Joe Rogan, a reported $100 million deal to make his podcast exclusive on the streaming service, including some of Spotify’s own employees. But maybe we should have actually been thanking the company.
While Spotify hasn’t released Rogan’s listenership data, an investigation by The Verge using secondary metrics, like how many followers his guests gained after shows, has taken a stab at gleaning whether removing Rogan’s show from other platforms did any harm to his influence — spoiler alert: it apparently it did.
Slowing growth — Some of the statistics compiled in the investigation: Before moving to Spotify, Rogan’s smaller guests could expect to gain roughly 4,000 followers on Twitter before the move; that number has averaged 2,000 since moving to Spotify. Rogan’s YouTube channel has also grown more slowly since the switch. Google searches for Rogan are down from 2020.
Walled gardens — There could be factors at hand other than the move to Spotify — people who might normally listen during their commute might not be listening at all while they work from home during the pandemic. But anecdotally speaking, The Verge spoke to more than a few people who previously listened to Rogan but stopped after the move to Spotify. As one person put it, there are so many podcasts out there that it might not be worth using another app for one show. Some people also oppose Spotify on other grounds, like the low compensation it gives to musicians.
TBD — Still, as exclusive and paid podcasts become more common, it seems intuitive that hosts are going to see their listenership decrease. Maybe that’s worth the trade off if they’re getting a big payday. But Rogan’s lucrative contract with Spotify will expire eventually, and it seems like the major listenership he had before could be translated into serious advertising and sponsorship dollars — and he’d still have his megaphone with which he could spout off misinformation, like the idea that young people don’t need to get vaccinated.
Hopefully for all of us, however, he will stick with Spotify.